What Davy said after Tipp loss, belief in their system and tunes in the dressing room
The Wexford dressing room was a good place to be this year.
Even during the January slog, the tunes were blaring and the spirits were high. As the year progressed, the stakes got higher but so did the enjoyment levels.
"Literally when you walk into Ferns, you think there's a disco happening in the changing room," said midfielder Diarmuid O'Keeffe on his punditry debut on Thursday's GAA Hour Hurling Show.
"It's no harm, it's good craic, we bounce ideas off each other and get a chat in and that. Lots of lads have a long day of work done and it's a great thing to chill out and relax half an hour before training..."
In February for example, young Kerryman Michael O'Brien gave them a team-talk before the game against Tipperary in the League. Simple things, small changes. This is what Davy Fitzgerald does, he looks outside the box, he keeps it fresh, players are always on their toes.
Fair play to Davy Fitzgerald for making young Michael O'Brien's day after his toy show promise last Christmas. 👏 pic.twitter.com/dsa8U4KGXS
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) February 18, 2019
Come the end of June they were Leinster champions. They hadn't won Bob O'Keeffe since 2004. In July they were eliminated by Tipperary at the second last hurdle and though they were disappointed and the overriding emotion was dejection, all was not lost in Wexford.
There's plenty to build on for next year.
"There wasn't much said. Everyone was devastated in the dressing room," says O'Keeffe of the dressing room afterwards.
"I don't think it was the right time to spend 15 or 20 minutes talking things through. It was a very brief chat, it was like look, things went well for us, things didn't go well. He was honest in saying that he was extremely proud of everything we did on the day and during the year. As regards what he will do, it's probably the most common question I've been asked over the last two weeks. I've genuinely no idea.
"The things I know is that he's not one to make rash decisions. He'll think things through, he will do what's right for him and the family and then as well as that, hands down all the players, county board and supporters, we have so much time for him and regardless of what he does, we'll support him 100%. We've made lifelong friends with that man..."
As a a manager, Davy Fitzgerald now has the full collection
All-Ireland (Clare, 2013) ✔️
Munster (Waterford, 2010) 👌
Leinster (Wexford, 2019) 🏆
National League (Clare, 2016) ✅
Fitzgibbon Cup (LIT, 2005 and 2007) 👏
An outstanding, hungry manager and an incredible GAA man pic.twitter.com/1tfKGMxoWt
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) June 30, 2019
As for the criticism of Wexford's 'sweeper,' O'Keeffe doesn't entertain it. He almost laughs at it, as does Davy and the whole of Wexford. Their manager believes in their system, so does his players and that's all that matters.
"The objective of playing a sweeper is that you don't concede goals. We conceded I think it was three in six games this year. What Davy is trying to get at I think is with wing forwards and centre forwards moving back down the pitch, then the natural progression for our backs is to follow and stick tight to them and if the likes of Damien Reck or Simon Donohue end up picking up ball in space, that's because they've followed their man..."
"You play what's in front of you. When you get moving up the pitch, you'll get to the 65 before you know it. Their primary role is to make sure their men don't get any other scores and what happens after that, happens."
As for what went wrong in the closing minutes of their last four clash against Tipp, the St Anne's Rathangan player nods that Wexford may have been a tad over-eager.
"In the heat of the battle the right idea now would have been to go short with the ball but when everything is coming at you and you think you're doing the right thing, balls are just being hit down the field. When you look back on it, we were swarming that D area when the ball landed, we were all running into a bundle - we were probably hitting it into the strongest area of the field for Tipp then too..."
You can listen to this week's GAA Hour Hurling Show here.